Marching Toward The Finest Ephemera Fair Of The Year

Welcome to the Books and Paper Fairs new blog.  Our goal is to provide enthusiasts of vintage and antiquarian books and ephemera with the latest information on upcoming fairs, great finds and interesting people, and new opportunities to enjoy these popular collecting categories. 

Please hold the date (digital calendar acceptable!) of March 19th and 20th for the upcoming Ephemera Society of America's annual Ephemera Fair.  This will be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Old Greenwich, CT, and is associated with the society's annual conference Ephemera 36.  The Ephemera Fair is open to the public and includes a remarkable sales room, more than 70 professionally curated exhibits, and the opportunity to meet some of the nation's finest dealers as well as fellow collectors. 
In order to learn more about this can't miss happening, we spoke to Sheryl Jaeger, a member of the board of the Ephemera Society of America, and Marvin Getman, the fair's new producer. Here's what they had to say!

Sheryl, can you tell us about yourself,  the Society, and your role in it?

I have been interested in ephemera for over 25 years.  I am a collector, but my primary interest is in the promotion and preservation of ephemera. This is accomplished through our business Eclectibles and by the efforts of the Ephemera Society. As a member of the Ephemera Society Board of Directors, I provide oversight for public relations and internet activities.

The Ephemera Society of America was founded in 1980.  Our mission is to cultivate and encourage interest in ephemera and the history identified with it; to further the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of ephemera by people of all ages, backgrounds, and levels of interest; to promote the personal and institutional collection, preservation, exhibition, and research of ephemeral materials; to serve as a link among collectors, dealers, institutions, and scholars; and to contribute to the cultural life of those who have an interest in our heritage as a nation or a people, both nationally and internationally.

Sheryl, for the layperson, can you tell us what is "ephemera" and give us a few examples?

Webster’s definition of ephemera is ‘things that are important or useful for only a short time: items that were not meant to have lasting value’.  In the context of scholarly and collector groups, this generally items made of paper that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles.  Popular categories include letters, advertising materials, historical documents, posters, magazines and newspapers, among many, many others. I know of people who are interested in things as specialized as reused playing cards, mermaids, the Lord’s Prayer written in miniature, andsigned tickets from Olympic games.  I believe that what was found on paper reflected human behavior of the time, thus making collecting interests as variable as recorded history.

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Marvin, you have just taken over producing the fair for the society.  Congratulations! What are your goals for the event?

When I received the Request for Proposal last summer to manage the Ephemera Fair for the Ephemera Society’s annual conference I jumped at the opportunity to submit one. This fair is a “feather in the cap” for any show manager as it is the best-known and highest quality ephemera fair in the country.  My ultimate hope is to introduce this fair to a younger generation of people who then become avid collectors. With my large mailing list from my antiques shows, I have been aggressively cross promoting my shows.  I have found that people who like antiques - once they attend a book and paper fair - often get hooked and become regulars at my fairs, which, fortunately, have gained a reputation for being well curated for quality.

Marvin, please tell us about the dealers who will be attending the show and the spectrum of things they will have on display or for sale.  

This fair will have more than 70 top dealers in their fields. They come from 18 states as far away as Oregon and we even have a dealer who travels from London each year!  Their specialties range from Valentine cards to children's toys to historic documents signed by presidents. There are dealers who specialize in food and cooking ephemera, posters, and advertising related items.  Others focus on original movie scripts, manuscripts, and music scores. Photos are another huge category; daguerreotypes, stereo-views, cabinet cards, snapshots and photos from famous photographers will all be on offer.   Other key areas include broadsides and maps, pamphlets and catalogs, architecture and interior design related materials, among practically countless others.  Being the largest all-ephemera show in the country, visitors will find an extremely wide variety of ephemera, A to Z, literally “airlines” to “zoology” ephemera, an estimated 10,000 plus items. In all honesty, it will be difficult to find an era or specialty that is not represented at this fair.  For a full list of attending dealers, please click here.

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Sheryl and Marvin, If someone has not heard of ephemera before, or is not a collector, why should they attend the show?

Sheryl: Have you ever opened a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,  or Pinterest page - or for that matter the New York Times - and found yourself amazed and drawn to the imagery or information and find yourself digging deeper?  If the answer is yes, think about what you could see at the fair!  You will also find knowledgeable and welcoming exhibitors who are willing to share information and answer questions. It’s an event in its own right.

Marvin:  Even people who don’t collect will find this fair to be an exciting experience and, odds are, they will leave with at least one item that catches their fascination, perhaps the start of a new collection. Walking through a fair such as this is a walk through history. Visitors get to see how people lived before the digital age - long before Facebook shaped the way most people today define friends, friendship, correspondence, and communication.

Marvin, what do visitors need to know about attending the show?

Visitors should definitely plan to spend the day or the weekend at the event.  For visitors wanting to learn more about ephemera from the best in the business, the Ephemera Society annual conference held in conjunction with the fair has an unbelievable line-up of speakers and seminars. This year’s meeting theme is Politics, Patriotism & Protest - a perfect fit for this election year!  Attending is well worth the trip from anywhere, and our friends at the beautiful Hyatt Regency have extended special hotel rates for the event.  You can find those here.  Ephemera Fair will be available on site during the event -  but discount weekend passes are available now for purchase online as well.  Please click here for ticket information.

Sheryl and Marvin, many thanks for your time.  This fair sounds like a can't miss event!

For more information on Book and Paper Fairs, producer of the top book and paper fairs in the northeast, please click here!